MYSURU: With many villages and towns left without hand sanitizers in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, farmers want the government to make use of sugar factories with distilleries to meet the local demand.
The farming community feels that providing sanitizers will also educate the masses on the need to maintain hygiene and cleanliness to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
The shortage of sanitizers is also felt in urban pockets as the stock is exhausted with many chemists. There are also reports of adulterated sanitizer liquid being sold, worrying the authorities. A few chemists are rationing by placing a restriction of one bottle per person.
As spirit production has come to a halt in 19 sugar factories and 18 more distillery units across the state amid the ban on the sale of liquor, cane growers want the government to press for production and supply of sanitizers covering the rural population.
Krishna, a sugar cane farmer, said that every tonne of sugarcane crushing produces 40 kg of molasses and 9 litres of spirit. He said that it will not be a burden on sugar factories as spirit is sold at Rs 28 per litre and wanted them to generously provide sanitizers through milk unions so that every household gets it to protect their health.
"We want the sugar factories to cover all 209 villages in Mandya district as they are caught between Mysuru and Bengaluru that have too many coronavirus positive cases," said Krishna.
The state Sugarcane Growers Association President Kurbur Shantakumar said sugar factories should exhibit their magnanimity by giving away free sanitizers to all districts, hospitals and the public.
He said that there are 20 lakh sugar cane growing families and factories should chip in as public health is in danger and the rural population is yet to get basics like sanitizers, masks and fumigation to protect themself from the virus.
Sugar Commissioner Akram Pasha said that around ten distillers have started sanitizer production of which eight have taken permission of the excise department. He said that soon sanitizers will reach the district administration and other organisations through the government so that it reaches the rural areas and the poor.